STRAUSS:100 M.Famous Works V.4

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Johann Strauss II(1825-1899)

100 Most Famous WorksVol. 4

Johann Strauss II, the most famous and enduringly successful nineteenthcentury light music composer, was born in Vienna on 25 October 1825. Buildingupon the firm musical foundations laid by his father, Johann Strauss I(1804-1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801-1843), the younger Johann (along with hisbrothers, Josef and Eduard) achieved so high a development of the classicalViennese waltz that it became as much a feature of the concert hall as of theballroom. For more than half a century Johann II captivated not only Vienna butalso the whole of Europe and America with his abundantly tuneful waltzes,polkas, quadrilles and marches. The appeal of his music bridged all socialstrata, and his genius was revered by such masters as Verdi, Brahms and RichardStrauss. The thrice-married "Waltz King" later turned his attentionto the composition of operetta, and completed 16 stage works (among them DieFledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig and Der Zigeunerbaron) besidesmore than 500 orchestral compositions - including the most famous of allwaltzes, The Blue Danube (1867). Johalm Strauss II died in Vienna on 3June 1899.

The Marco Polo Strauss Edition, from which these recordings wereselected, is a milestone in recording history, presenting, for the first timeever, the entire orchestral output of the "Waltz King". Despite theirsupremely high standard of musical invention, the majority of the compositionshave never before been commercially recorded and have been painstakinglyassembled from archives around the world. All performances featured in thisseries are complete and, wherever possible, the works are played in theiroriginal instrumentation as conceived by the "master orchestrator"himself, Johann Strauss II.

[1] Waldmeister (Woodruff) Overture

On 8 December 1895 Strauss personally conducted the first concertperformance of the Waldmeister Overture at his brother Eduard's benefitconcert with the Strauss Orchestra in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein.

The novelty closed the first half of an interesting programme which alsofeatured music by Ambroise Thomas, Liszt, Benjamin Godard, Robert Schumann,Paderewski, Mascagni, Mendelssohn and Eduard Strauss. The IllustrirtesWiener Extrablatt (9.12.1895) noted that Strauss's initial attempt to gainthe orchestra's attention by tapping the desk with his baton was drowned out bythe tempestuous applause which greeted his arrival at the conductor's podium.

After an "exemplary" performance of the overture, thetightly-packed house showed its approval through further hurricanes ofapplause.

The structure and composition of the Waldmeister Overture aresimple, yet highly effective, prompting the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt (5.12.1895)to remark: "With its sparkling orchestral ingenuity, even the overturecalled forth the applause of the house", The dominant theme - with manyvariations - is the waltz from the Act 2 Finale, to the words "Trau,schau, wem!" ('Take care in whom you trust!'). Particular delight wasengendered by the repetition of the drawn-out three-note theme (the"inverted Danube Waltz", mentioned earlier), to which Strausscomposed a haunting countermelody for the violins. It was not long before itwas rumoured that Johannes Brahms had written this countermelody into the scorefor his friend Johann Strauss. As Professor Franz Mailer has so charminglywritten: "Perhaps Strauss heard this rumour while he was still alive - ithas lasted obdurately to the present day. He may have smiled and been proudthat the symphonic composer Brahms, whom he admired without envy, should haveascribed to himself [Brahms] what in fact was the invention of Strauss, theerstwhile suburban musician ". Indeed, a calligraphic study of the Waldmeisterautograph full score (now in the archives of the Gesellschaft derMusikfreunde) reveals only the hand of Johann Strauss.

The Allegro introductory bars of the overture are based looselyon ideas in the operetta score, leading into an Andante 3/4 section.

There follows a Pi?? moto, ma non troppo passage, taken from the"Gemassigtes Walzertempo" (moderate waltz tempo) section of the Act 2Finale (No. 14) sung by the ensemble to the words "Hm, hm, hm, so in derNah'". After some development a later section in this same ensemble (No.

14), sung first by Pauline with the words "Trau', schau', wem? Freundchen,sei auf der Hut!", provides the Gemassigtes Walzer-Tempo passagein the overture. The Allegro moderato quotes from the third and lastorchestral Melodrama in the Act 2 Finale (No. 14), although its staccatosecond section is nowhere traceable in the operetta's published piano/vocalscore. A link passage follows, possibly based on a motif from the Act 2Ensemble und Arietta (No. 10), while the Andantino presents music fromthe Act 2 Duet (No. 11) for Botho von Wendt and Freda, sung first by Botho tothe words "Bin Dir von Herzen ergeben". In the Allegrettoben moderato a hunting-style wind section, dominated by horns, foreshadowsa song from the Act 2 Ensemble und Arietta (No. 10) sung by Botho to the words"Der Jager nimmt, so wie's geziemt" (Strauss's parody of the 'HuntingChorus' from Weber's 1821 opera, Der Freisch??tz?). A11other GemassigtesWalzer-Tempo linking section (based again on "Hm, hm, hm, so in derNah"') is followed by a repeat of "Trau', schau', wem?Freundchen, sei a/if der Hut!", and the overture is brought to ascorching conclusion by a recapitulation of the untraceable Vivace staccato passageheard earlier.

[2] Mephistos Hollenrufe, Walzer (Mephistopheles' Cries from Hell) Op.


Mephistos Hollenrufe isthe evocative title Johann Strauss gave to the waltz he composed in autumn 1851for a "Grand Promenade Festival with Fireworks and Music" in theVienna Volksgarten, which took place on 12 October 1851 under the title"The Journey into the Lake of Fire". (The title is a quotation fromRevelations 20:10 - "And the devil [Mephistopheles in mediaeval mythology]... was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the falseprophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever").

The Mephistos Hollenrufe waltz, composed especially for thisfestival, combined elements of old Viennese dance music with that new zestwhich Strauss could claim as his own contribution to the further development ofthe waltz. Such academic observations, however, escaped the notice of thecritics, the reporter for the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung

(14.10.1851) merely commenting that the work "received such a favourablereception, on account of its effective and original melodies and brilliantinstrumentation, that it had to be repeated three times". Particularlycolourful, and fully in keeping with the work's ominous title, are theIntroduction and Waltz 2A - the dainty, upwardly-?¡ascending tune of the latterbeing suddenly interrupted, and then answered by a sinister chromaticdescending passage. It is interesting to note that several of the waltz themes(1C, 2A, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B) in Mephistos Hollenrue are to be foundin close proximity to one another in the earliest-known of Johann's musical'sketchbooks' (now housed in Harvard University's Houghton Library) and wereprobably notated during the first half of 1851.
Disc: 1
Russische Marschfantasie, Op. 353
1 Waldmeister, Overture
2 Mephistos Hollenrufe, Walzer, Op. 101
3 Kreuzfidel, Polka francaise, Op. 301
4 Du and Du (Waltz), Op. 367
5 Tausend und eine Nacht, Intermezzo
6 Kuss-Walzer, Op. 400
7 Scherz-Polka, Op. 72
8 An der schonen blauen Donau, Walzer, Op. 314
9 Russische Marschfantasie, Op. 353
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